Why is the Starpharma (ASX:SPL) share price trading at 52-week lows?

The biotech company has been in the doldrums lately.

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Shares in biotechnology company Starpharma Holdings Limited (ASX: SPL) ended this week with another day in the red, trading 0.97% down at $1.02 at Friday’s close.

It’s been a lousy period for the company’s shareholders these past 3 months. The Starpharma share price hit its ceiling of $1.47 in late September and has since reversed course to trade at 52-week lows today.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s been happening for Starpharma in the past few weeks.

What’s up with Starpharma lately?

The market had a negative response to Starpharma’s FY21 results back in August. However, this was short lived, as investors bought in until lows of $1.15 and sent its share price back north. Shares then peaked in late September before reversing course and haven’t recovered since.

Interestingly, there wasn’t anything out of Starpharma’s camp that sent its shares flying south at the time. However, the biotech’s decline did correspond with a sector-wide selloff in ASX 200 health care shares.

Around the same time, on 23 September, the S&P/ASX 200 Health Care index (ASX: XHJ) tumbled from its high and lost more than 8% in a number of days.

The impulse of this selloff had a ripple effect into adjacent shares in the health care sector. However, just like the index, many of these names have recovered and are back at or near 3-months highs.

Starpharma is one exception to the pack and is instead hovering around its low-points. It isn’t attracting much investor attention either.

For instance, trading volume of Starpharma shares today is around 20% of their 4-week average of 610,683 shares.

What about the quarterly update?

The company released its quarterly trading update last month. It advised it had a cash balance of $53 million at quarter’s end, and had progressed its Viraleze pipeline.

Speaking on the report, Starpharma CEO Dr Jackie Farley said:

Starpharma continued to progress its three clinical stage DEP® assets, with a number of new and impressive tumour responses. Our partnered DEP® programs, including those with AstraZeneca, Merck and Chase Sun, are going well and we are really excited to see AZD0466 being presented by AstraZeneca at the ASH meeting in December.

The company is also set to launch its Viraleze label in Italy and Vietnam soon and has developed partnerships in doing so. Regarding the launch, Farley commented:

We are excited to see VIRALEZE™ launched in pharmacies and retail outlets in Italy and Vietnam soon. The overwhelming feedback from our distribution partners confirms the significant need for a product like VIRALEZE™ in addition to vaccines, and particularly for countries where vaccination rates are low.

We continue to progress negotiations for multiple other supply and distribution arrangements in further countries and regions, while we undertake international regulatory activities to expedite launch wherever possible. We look forward to announcing these commercial partnerships as they come on board.

Starpharma share price snapshot

The Starpharma share price is swimming in a sea of red across just about all time frames. In the past week, it is down almost 1.5%, and has lost 12% in the past month.

Over the last 12 months, Starpharma shares have decreased 23.5% after falling another 34.5% this year to date.

Each of these returns has lagged the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index (ASX: XJO)’s return of around 13% in the previous year.

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